What to Include and Exclude on Your Law School Résumé

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The résumé is usually the last part of a law school application that gets any serious attention. You’ve written the hell out of your law school personal statement and you’re pretty much positive you got some kick ass recommendations. Now, what the hell to do with your résumé? Glad you asked.

Let’s take a moment to think about your résumé in the context of your entire law school application. What information is already out there? There’s your law school personal statement, your transcript, and whatever it is you wrote on the application itself. Include as little information from those three items as possible on your résumé. I can give you two reasons to adopt this strategy.

First, those reviewing your law school application are trying to determine what type of lawyer you’ll be. They want to know that you value economy in preparing documents and have a keen sense of strategy. Redundancy is not your friend. Your résumé is your chance to make a point (or seven) that you haven’t had the space to make elsewhere. Not only will you appear a more complete candidate, you will also appear a more competent one.

Second, your résumé is your chance to make your seemingly irrelevant experience seem relevant in the legal context. Think about those skills that the legal world values — the ability to clearly express yourself, cogent analysis and a desire to read. Figure out ways in which the things you’ve done would benefit you in the legal context and describe your experience in those terms. Get creative and help your cause.

So don’t sweat it if you don’t have a bunch of law-related experience. Most people don’t. What you do have is the ability to make as good a case as possible for yourself. You can do so by making your past experience seem applicable in the legal context. Whether or not that’s true isn’t relevant. What’s relevant is that you’ve made a good case for yourself.

And that’s something that those reading your law school application will respect.

2 Responses

  1. Hasti says:

    How long should the resume be?

    • Hank says:

      General résumé rule of thumb says one page. (And no, that does not mean you should shrink the font to make everything fit.)

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